Former Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein will leave the Mercedes motorsport family at the end of the year, the German manufacturer has announced.
Wehrlein won the 2015 DTM title for the Silver Arrows and was brought into F1 with Mercedes backing, contesting a season each for Manor and Sauber respectively.
He was left off the 2018 F1 grid, and returned to Mercedes' DTM roster – but with the manufacturer departing the championship at the end of the year, it was left with no options to offer Wehrlein “a competitive drive” for 2019.
“Our junior programme has always been about supporting young talent and finding opportunities that are in the best interests of the drivers' careers,” Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said.
“It is not always a straight path to the top - and sometimes we have to recognise that it is the right time to end a relationship, too. Unfortunately, we couldn't offer Pascal a competitive drive for next year.
“In his best interests, we have therefore decided together with Pascal not to extend our agreement and to give him the best chance of securing an opportunity elsewhere that his talent merits.”
Pascal Wehrlein, in the Mercedes AMG F1 garage
Photo by: Sutton Images
Wehrlein is currently eighth in the 2018 DTM standings, having scored a single podium at Lausitz in his return campaign so far – with four races left in the season.
The German, who was also made the Mercedes F1 team's reserve this year after dropping out from the F1 grid, had not closed the door on returning to grand prix racing in the future.
However, a F1 comeback for Wehrlein has long looked unrealistic, with Mercedes also having Force India driver Esteban Ocon and F2 frontrunner George Russell on its books – and struggling to find 2019 opportunities for either.
“My contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the 2018 season and we have jointly decided not to continue further together,” Wehrlein said.
“I am looking for new challenges and opportunities, and am currently talking to other teams about a cockpit for next season.
“Thank you to everybody in Stuttgart, Affalterbach and Brackley who has supported me along the way. And now it's time to take the next step.”
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- Formula 1